Simple new prenatal tests (some administered at home)  can now check fetal DNA for everything from gender to serious medical conditions (like Down’s syndrome.  With these tests come stark questions.  What divides a life worth living from one that isn’t aand who has he right to make that call.

Those who favour pre-natal testing argue that humans are developing a more perfect race.

Those who oppose accuse medical researchers of promoting genetic cleansing.

Where do you come down on this issue.?

Most who want sex selection do so for “family balancing.”

Also doctors can eliminate a healthy twin purely for the convenience of the mother.

Couples who now buy donor eggs and sperm from commercial fertility clinics can now select  for hair colour, ethnicity, temperament, athleticism and intellectual prowess.

We do these things not just because we need to, but because we can.  Ethics follow technology, not the other way round.

Many are alarmed at these developments.  The distinguished ethicist at McGill, Dr. MargareT Somerville, calls these medical procedures ‘a search destroy mission” to wipe out disabled people?

Would the world be a better place if we could eliminate retarded persons?  Ask Jean Vanier.

On the other side, Dr. David  Chityat. a clinical pediatrician and geneticist in Toronto argues that the value of all human life, even the life of the disabled, is counterweighted by the downside of any serious genetic syndrome — the physical toll it takes on the child and the family, the health costs and the isolation and parental guilt a serious syndrome causes.

A woman who has a severely disabled child was asked what the world would be like were there no disabled people.  She answered:  “A world where there are only masters of the universe would be like Sparta.  It would not be a kind country.  It would be a cruel place.”  Then she began to cry.

Should we judge whether a life is worth-living based on pre-natal tests.  and who decides?

Is a disabled child only partially human?

Or are there multiple ways to be human?

What divides a lifeworth living from a life that isn’t?

Who decides who lives and who dies?

What do you think?


  1. 1

    “What divides a life worth living from one that isn’t aand who has he right to make that call.”

    Well, for starters, you could stop putting labels like “worth” and “value” on it and simply ask who is willing to be completely and totally responsible for every moment and aspect of a life. Then let those who are so willing make the call and everyone else stay out of their way while they do it.

    “Those who oppose accuse medical researchers of promoting genetic cleansing.”

    Well, since the opposite of cleansing is polluting, would you not say it’s about time?

  2. 2
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    “It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish” -Mother Teresa

  3. 3
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Cuba should be studied in this regard.

    They have been practising a quasi-form of pre-natal tezting for two generations.

    Contrary to Michael Moore’s propaganda, the Cuban health syatem doesn’t and has never worked. They have thus had to rely on a very aggressive system of abortion not just as contracention but as genetic cleansing. At the slughtest sign of problems with a pregnancy, the mother is strrongly encoraged to abort. Many reports out of Cuba are that deformed or unhealthy babies that are delivered are left to die and reported as stillbirths.

    Does this practise have a positive or negative effect on the gene pool? Equally important to some, how does this affect national health costs?

  4. 4

    Tony, I’ll ask you since you’re here, but this question goes to EVERYONE who objects to genetic testing: Are you willing to be completely and totally responsible on a personal and financial level for each defective fetus you want to “save?”

    And if not, why do you think you have the right to assign that responsibility to someone else who does not want it, would not choose it, and without even asking them?

  5. 5

    This subject sounds familiar. Didn’t we cover this recently?

  6. 6

    I see that it was Sept 11th and as usual on this topic, the discussion deteriorated rapidly.
    For my opinions-see my comments. They haven’t changed. I still have the same disabled daughter, and she is a blessing to all who have known her.

    And Neil: Yes, in case you have any doubt-re: your 2nd question. She is totally human.

  7. 7
    Neil McKenty Says:

    If we approve aborting defective fetuses, whoi long will it be be before we start killing defective children. Sounds like Hitler’s Germany to me.

  8. 8
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    Lady J:

    Yes, I’ll responsible for them. Send all the unwanted children to me.

    But will they have me?

  9. 9

    Neil, no one is saying you have to approve of what someone else does. But you can’t disapprove of it, either, without volunteering your own resources towards sustaining that whose “destruction” you decry. Okay?

    And…don’t go all Godwin this early in the day…

  10. 10
    Tony Kondaks Says:

    By the way, Lady J, I answered your questions on the “millionnaire” thread.

  11. 11

    I.ll go with Tony nand Mother Teresa on that one.

  12. 12

    Tony: No, you didn’t.

  13. 13

    This is a debate on abortion.
    Every woman has to decide for herself, if she has an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy.
    There are personal consequences, either way. (usually).
    I defend the right, THE RIGHT for women to make that decision. Unobstructed.

    We should all work towards 100% prevention, worldwide. On both unwanted pregnancy and birth defects.

  14. 14
    joe agnost Says:

    I’m with Lady Janus… And the only thing Mother Teresa got right was her questioning her faith – otherwise MT was a horrible human being that revelled in other people’s suffering.

  15. 15

    Patti, I absolutely agree with you. May I point out that “consequences” has positive connotations as well as negative…also depending on the view of the beholder?

  16. 16

    That remark is hugely condescending. You imply that I may not know the meaning of a word I used. May I point out? Do you really NEED to nit-pick every comment?

  17. 17

    I didn’t imply anything. I simply pointed out (and I was NOT pointing at you alone) that most people think of “consequences) as having a negative connotation, when, in fact, it is neutral. Painting your house a different color has consequences — it changes the color of the house.

    And yes, sometimes it is necessary to put a magnifying glass on the language we use. When different people grow up using certain words in only one context while ignoring all others, it can’t hurt to clarify. YOU might very well know all the possible definitions of the words you use, but are you sure that everyone does?

  18. 18

    LJ said:”YOU might very well know all the possible definitions of the words you use, but are you sure that everyone does?”

    I say: I am pretty sure that the contributors and moderator on this site do!
    But,thanks for the tutorial on language. (Very tiresome)…at best.

  19. 19
    joe agnost Says:

    I think it’s hilarious that littlepatti accuses ladyJanus of nitpicking when it’s clear that littlepatti has a bee in her bonnet (regarding anything Janus seems to say lately) and is obviously nitpicking at ladyJanus!

    Someone get Patti a mirror! STAT! 😉

  20. 20

    Thanks Joe, I did hold up a mirror-I read the comments going back to “should millionaires” and the discussion on “Sobriety.”
    I think it was perfectly fine up to the last few comments on those topics.
    I went off the rails when the discussion got belligerent-I’m very sensitive to that combative, dismissive attitude, having had some experience with alcoholics.
    I apologize to the forum.

  21. 21

    Patti, you’re abviously not the only one who has had experience with alcoholics. However, I think I can safely say than none of us has had the same experiences with the same alcoholics that you have had. Give a little leeway in your judgements of what the rest of us know, willya please?

  22. 22
    jim Says:

    Alcoholics are the same as everyone else, only more so. There is an old story about the alcoholic who hated everything he was doing to himself and to his loved ones, Occasionally he would go into this shed and a moment later a man would come out of a side room and hit the alky on the head with a sledgehammer. The idea was to knock some sense into his head, and then he would leave. He kept this up for a long time. One day he entered the shed and no man came out to slam his head. Would you believe that the man sat down on a chair and waited.

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